KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report

In The News

Senate Confirmation Hearing Date Not Set Nearly 2 Months Since Announcement Of Trump's Intent To Nominate Heather Nauert As U.S. Ambassador To U.N.

CNN: After nearly 2 months there’s no sign of urgency to confirm Trump’s U.N. pick
“It was early December when President Donald Trump announced he had selected State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert to replace Nikki Haley as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Almost two months later her nomination has not been made official, no date has been set for a Senate confirmation hearing, and Nauert has retreated from the public gaze. There is no tangible growing opposition to her appointment among Republicans, but there seems to be no urgency from the White House and GOP members of Congress to get her into the job…” (Atwood, 1/29).

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Devex, Intellectual Property Watch Report On Issues Discussed At WHO Executive Board Meeting

Devex: DRC Ebola crisis serves as test for WHO health reform
“…The ongoing outbreak in DRC is the second most severe Ebola outbreak ever recorded, with more than 400 confirmed deaths so far. The Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee, established to monitor the work of WHO in outbreaks and emergencies, found WHO has been quick in deploying key staff, establishing Ebola treatment centers, and releasing funds from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to fill financial gaps in the response. Staff also expressed ‘remarkable progress’ on internal coordination and communication. This was in ‘huge contrast’ to the West Africa Ebola response, IOAC President Felicity Harvey told member states on Monday at WHO’s executive board meetings in Geneva, Switzerland…” (Ravelo, 1/29).

Intellectual Property Watch: WHO Draft Resolution On Universal Health Coverage Shows Efforts At Consensus
“With half the world’s population still lacking access to essential health services, World Health Organization Executive Board members this week are working to agree on a resolution indicating ways through which this situation can be alleviated. … A draft resolution was issued dated 26 January, put forward by Japan and Thailand, the two countries coordinating the discussions on the language of the draft resolution…” (Saez, 1/28).

Intellectual Property Watch: Measuring Outputs Seen As Key To WHO Transformation
“Measurable outputs are a key element of the World Health Organization transformation and its ‘triple billion’ target. Last week, WHO Executive Board discussed the Impact Framework, a key measurement system. Board members asked clarifications on indicators and underlined the challenge of data collection in many countries…” (Saez, 1/29).

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Devex Examines UNAIDS' Future Following Independent Panel Report, Executive Director's Resignation 6 Months Early

Devex: The future of UNAIDS
“The United Nations AIDS agency ended 2018 in crisis. It is unclear how it will recover. The troubles center on the contents of a report, published by an independent panel in December, documenting how the program’s leaders failed to prevent or respond to allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse of power. … Days after the panel published its findings, [UNAIDS Executive Director Michel] Sidibé announced he would step down in June, six months earlier than expected. … In a best-case scenario, [Stephen Morrison, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and director of its Global Health Policy Center,] said this transition could offer UNAIDS an opportunity to reposition itself to meet emerging threats to the global HIV response, including mounting donor disinterest. But it has also opened the program up to questions about whether, more than two decades after its creation, it is even still necessary…” (Green, 1/29).

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Media Outlets Continue Coverage Of Lancet Report On Syndemic Of Malnutrition, Obesity, Climate Change

Bloomberg: Big Food Is To Blame for Far More Than Obesity, Study Finds
“The food industry is portrayed as the new Big Tobacco in a sweeping report that links the industry’s influence to a global obesity epidemic, along with malnutrition and climate change…” (1/28).

Health Policy Watch: Vested Interests & Misplaced Economic Incentives Drive Obesity, Undernutrition & Climate Change, Lancet Report Finds
“…Current trends are driving the inter-related pandemics of obesity and undernutrition as well as climate change, according to a new report by The Lancet Commission on Obesity. The Global Syndemic of Obesity, Undernutrition, and Climate Change, released [Monday], calls for a new global treaty on food systems to limit the political influence of what it describes as ‘Big Food’ driving both ill health and climate change…” (Fletcher, 1/28).

Newsweek: Fixing Climate Change, Obesity Requires ‘Fundamentally Transformed’ Capitalism, Says New Report
“… ‘These three pandemics — obesity, undernutrition, and climate change — represent The Global Syndemic that affects most people in every country and region worldwide,’ the report reads, further describing the interlocked pandemics as ‘the paramount health challenge for humans, the environment, and our planet in the 21st century’…” (Whalen, 1/28).

NPR: Does The World Need A New Buzzword — ‘Syndemic’ — To Describe 3 Big Crises?
“…The term [syndemic] was first coined in the 1990s to describe the way different diseases interact within the human body. … Now, a new report by the Lancet Commission is broadening the definition big time, using it make a connection between three of the biggest public health issues of the 21st century…” (Ellis, 1/28).

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Conflict Driving Hunger, Malnutrition In Areas Of Need, With Situations Worsening, U.N. Report Shows

U.N. News: Link between conflict and hunger worldwide, ‘all too persistent and deadly,’ says new U.N. report
“Conflict-driven hunger is getting worse, according to a snapshot of the eight places in the world with the highest number of people in need of emergency food support, and the link between them is ‘all too persistent and deadly’ according to a new report delivered to the U.N. Security Council on Monday. The new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) follows on from a landmark Council resolution on preventing hunger in conflict zones, adopted in May…” (1/28).

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Advances In Global Public Health Tempered By Worsening Economic, Political Situations, WEF Global Risks Report Says

Homeland Preparedness News: World Economic Forum highlights advancements, risks in global response to emerging pathogens
“Medical breakthroughs and advances in public health systems have enabled countries to contain the effects of infectious diseases, but these gains are tempered by insecurities from forces in economics, globalization, and synthetic biology. That was the takeaway from the Global Risks Report 2019 issued by the World Economic Forum where experts made predictions of worsening economic and political confrontations this year between major powers…” (Adrien, 1/28).

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Bill Gates Urges Voters, Governments To Continue Funding Global Health Initiatives

Business Day: EXCLUSIVE: Bill Gates keeps pushing for disease-free world amid growing skepticism
“On the face of it, the timing could hardly seem to have been worse for Bill Gates. The billionaire founder of technology company Microsoft, known now for his philanthropy through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was in Davos to make a pitch for what seems inimical to the mood in global politics. … Gates was there to make the case for these very governments to sign up to funding for global health initiatives in developing countries — far away places that are hardly at the top of priority lists for their electorates. … ‘It’s really the continued willingness of the voters and politicians in the top aid donor countries that will determine if [the Global Fund and other global health initiatives] continu[e] or not,’ Gates said in an interview at the annual meeting of the WEF…” (Mnyanda, 1/28).

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World Bank President Jim Kim Sends Letter To Staff Before Departure At Week's End

Devex: ‘Why leave? I believe it’s time,’ Jim Kim tells staff
“Seeking to address ‘the last few weeks of speculation about the future of the World Bank Group,’ outgoing World Bank President Jim Kim sent a letter to staff Monday. … ‘I believe the World Bank Group is well positioned to capitalize on great opportunities in the coming years. I also believe that in my particular case, this is the right time to leave, especially following the capital increase,’ he wrote. Kim’s departure — officially at the end of this week — ignited both a race to replace him and a renewed debate about whether the United States should continue to hold sway over the World Bank’s presidential appointment process. Given the Trump administration’s views on issues such as climate change and skepticism about multilateral institutions and development assistance in general, that question has grown more urgent…” (Igoe, 1/29).

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South Sudan Begins Vaccinating Health Care Workers, Other Responders For Ebola As DRC Outbreak Grows To 736 Total Cases

The BMJ: Congo’s Ebola epidemic is now its worst ever and still spreading
“Political unrest over the Democratic Republic of Congo’s recent election as well as continued guerrilla activity in the country’s north east have hampered the response to an Ebola epidemic … The World Health Organization said that protesters targeted dozens of clinics around disease hotspots like Beni and Butembo, where they are often seen as outposts of the central government…” (Dyer, 1/28).

CIDRAP News: Congo Ebola cases rise to 736 as problems noted in Katwa
“Over the weekend and through [Monday], the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reported 15 more Ebola cases, including five earlier probable infections from Komanda, one of the areas where responders had faced security challenges. … The new cases boost the overall outbreak total to 736 cases, which include 682 confirmed and 54 probable infections…” (Schnirring, 1/28).

Healio: South Sudan begins vaccinating against Ebola
“Health care workers and other front-line responders in South Sudan are being vaccinated against Ebola amid a worsening outbreak of the disease in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, WHO announced. Fearing cross-border spread from the DRC, Uganda began vaccinating front-line workers in November…” (1/28).

Additional coverage of the DRC Ebola outbreak, response, and research into new treatments is available from CIDRAP News, Homeland Preparedness News, and Science Speaks.

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Singapore's Health Ministry Accuses American Of Leaking Health Records Of 14,200 Singaporeans, Foreigners Living With HIV

Associated Press: Singapore says American leaked 14,200 HIV records
“Singapore’s health ministry accused an American on Monday of stealing and leaking the records of 14,200 people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, before January 2013…” (Liang, 1/28).

BBC News: Singapore HIV registry data leaked online in health breach
“…They believe an HIV-positive American whose partner was a senior Singaporean doctor is behind the leak. The hack comes just months after the records of 1.5m Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, were stolen last year. Confidential information including names, addresses, HIV status, and other medical information is reportedly included in the latest breach…” (1/28).

CNN: HIV status of over 14,000 people leaked online, Singapore authorities say
“…Records leaked include 5,400 Singaporeans diagnosed as HIV-positive before January 2013, and 8,800 foreigners diagnosed before December 2011, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement…” (Griffiths, 1/28).

New York Times: Singapore Says Records for 14,200 HIV Patients, Held by an American, Were Leaked
“…The Singaporean police notified the Health Ministry on Jan. 22 that confidential information from its HIV Registry ‘may have been disclosed by an unauthorized person,’ the statement said. … It named that person as Mikhy K. Farrera Brochez, an American citizen who it said had lived in Singapore on an employment pass from January 2008 to June 2016, when he was jailed. Mr. Brochez could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday…” (Ives, 1/28).

Reuters: U.S. citizen leaks data on 14,200 people in Singapore with HIV
“…U.S. citizen Mikhy Farrera Brochez lived in Singapore from 2008 and was convicted in 2017 on numerous drug-related and fraud offenses, including lying to the Ministry of Manpower about his own HIV status. … Brochez was deported after serving his jail term and was now overseas, according to the ministry statement, which did not say where…” (Aravindan, 1/28).

Wall Street Journal: HIV Status of More Than 14,000 People Leaked in Singapore Data Breach
“…The disclosure of medical data, especially regarding HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can have severe consequences for those involved, particularly gay people. In Singapore, sex between men is illegal and homosexuality is widely stigmatized. The leak ‘has the potential of damaging the lives of persons living with HIV and their loved ones,’ said Roy Chan, president of nongovernmental organization Action for AIDS in Singapore. ‘This is a criminal act that should be condemned and answered in the most severe terms possible’…” (Watt/Venkat, 1/28).

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More News In Global Health

Al Jazeera: More warnings about humanitarian crises in Central Africa (Idris, 1/29).

Associated Press: German governing parties compromise in abortion dispute (1/29).

Forbes: This Aid Agency Intends To Use Microsoft AI To Solve World Hunger And Malnutrition (Baxi, 1/28).

The Guardian: ‘It kills within hours’: two die as cholera outbreak spreads in Ugandan capital (Okiror, 1/28).

The Guardian: Genes linked to antibiotic-resistant superbugs found in Arctic (Harvey, 1/28).

Health Policy Watch: DNDi, MMV Make 400 Compounds Available To Boost Pandemic Disease Research (New, 1/29).

NBC News: Venezuelans travel to border for vaccinations as Colombia works to prevent outbreak (Wight, 1/26).

New York Times: Abortion, Newly Legal in Ireland, Faces Old Roadblocks (Yeginsu, 1/28).

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Editorials and Opinions

Sustained Investments In Global Health Funds Critical To Saving Lives Worldwide

CNN: Melinda Gates: Why women’s and children’s health is at risk around the world
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…Collectively, the [Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi); the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria (Global Fund); and the Global Financing Facility (GFF)] need to raise billions of dollars in the next 18 months to keep doing their work. With politicians around the world turning to the rhetoric of isolationism, I worry governments that have been reliable donors, including my own country the United States, will stop investing and let the funds run low. This could squander the opportunity to make historic progress in the fight against disease through sustained investment in the global health funds. … When our foundation started investing in these funds, we believed they were high-risk, high-reward. … The past two decades have shown that the reward is even higher than we thought. With sustained investment, the global health funds will continue to save millions upon millions of lives and pave the way for a secure and stable future. Those are the kinds of investments the world should be doubling down on” (1/28).

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'Disrupting' Health Service Delivery Could Be Key To More Effective, Equitable Health Systems

STAT: Dispatch from Davos: Hospitals of the future will not be traditional hospitals
Stephen K. Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health

“I had the honor of taking part in a panel on the future of hospitals [Saturday] at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The central question before us was this: ‘How can providers be more effective at addressing the social determinants of health before more patients arrive at the hospital door?’ … If we can combine ideas from consumer industries about engaging with people and applying the technology that gives each of us control of our own health data, we can disrupt legacy health care delivery in profound ways. … [One] disruptive vision can be made to work across income levels. It is easier to move health care to a phone than it is to move hospitals to remote communities. In fact, I believe we must get care to where patients are instead of getting patients to where care is located. That is a revolution that is starting now. … If we fail to embrace disruption, the consequences of clinging to legacy systems of care will become even greater, further growing a fragmented, expensive, inequitable health delivery system. … My prescription for an optimistic future for health care is straightforward: Embrace disruption. Make the patient the boss. And remember that our challenge as we create an optimistic future for health care, is envisioning communities of people who are physically, mentally, and socially healthy” (1/26).

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Private, Humanitarian Sectors Must Work Together To Ensure Sustainable Development

IRIN: After Davos, let’s turn talk into action
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Tara Nathan, executive vice president for public private partnerships at MasterCard, both co-chairs of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council for the Humanitarian System

“More and more private sector leaders recognize that business can’t survive in a failing world, as demonstrated by the sessions devoted to humanitarian issues at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos last week. Eight hundred million people live in unstable environments where they are left vulnerable to poverty, food insecurity, conflict, and other upheavals — often for years. Humanitarians, meanwhile, recognize that their ability to respond is at risk because traditional donor funding is not keeping up with changing needs. The statistics are always sobering: U.N. requests to fund emergency and other aid needs have risen continuously over the last three years … Yet donations, largely by governments, fell short in recent years … So how to translate well-intentioned talk in Davos and elsewhere into action? A start, say [Maurer and Nathan], is to look beyond emergency situations to economically and politically fragile environments. Then tap the private sector and other stakeholders to help people rebuild sustainable livelihoods and basic services, with the goal of preventing or speeding up recovery from humanitarian crises. Maurer and Nathan have spent time thinking about that approach, both at Davos and as the leads of a group of professionals from diverse fields who are examining the issue as part of a World Economic Forum initiative. Below, they share some of their ideas…” (1/28).

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U.K.'s Drug Pricing Model Pilot Could Help Address AMR Challenges

Financial Times: U.K. shows leadership on anti-microbial resistance
Editorial Board

“…The potentially most transformative element [to address the market failure around antimicrobial resistance (AMR)] is a new pricing model pilot that changes the way the U.K. National Health Service purchases antibiotics. It will pay drug developers upfront, based on how valuable the medicines are to the health service rather than on the quantity of the drugs sold. The de-linking of price from volume is intended to make it affordable for pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics. This reflects a more sophisticated understanding of the real value of a medicine — one that is based on its importance for public health rather than its price. The U.K. represents only three percent of the world’s drugs market, so it will not have much of an impact on its own. But it is seen as a leader in AMR so other countries will be looking to see how the new pricing model works. The U.K. therefore has a particular responsibility to ensure that the policy is implemented effectively and funded adequately. Global public health depends on a coordinated response. Put simply, humanity cannot afford to lose this weapon of mass protection” (1/28).

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From the Global Health Policy Community

MFAN Interim Executive Director Looks Ahead To U.S. Aid Effectiveness Deadlines

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network: A Note on Aid Reform: A New Year Agenda as the Government Returns to Work
MFAN Interim Executive Director Larry Nowels discusses MFAN’s 2019 aid agenda and highlights “a number of aid effectiveness deadlines that are fast approaching,” including the “administration’s deadline for all agencies administering foreign assistance to put in place monitoring and evaluation policies, as called for in the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act (FATAA)”; the administration’s February deadline of submitting a plan to Congress for the new Development Finance Corporation; and the February release of the President’s Budget Request for FY2020 (1/28).

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BMJ Series Focuses On Solutions For NCD Prevention, Control

The BMJ: Solutions for non-communicable disease prevention and control
“Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) constitute a major global health challenge, hampering nations’ economic growth and sustainable development. … This new collection issue brings together a wide and diverse author group, to focus on key issues and suggest scalable solutions to accelerate the implementation of the high-level commitments made in the three U.N. general assembly meetings. As this collection expands over time, it looks to cover the major issues in prevention and control of NCDs, and to provide a holistic perspective on the current challenges and scope of future action to tackle NCDs and improve health worldwide…” (January 2019).

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Princeton Research Scholar Discusses Value Of Trust In Controlling Disease Outbreaks

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: From Africa to America, lack of public trust makes disease outbreaks worse
Laura H. Kahn, author and research scholar at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security, discusses the importance of trust in controlling disease outbreaks, writing, “Vaccines are the best strategy we have against Ebola in Congo, measles in the United States, and other biothreats such as pandemic influenza and newly emerging pathogens. But if the public doesn’t trust them, or the people administering them, or the officials making policy, it will be extremely difficult to contain any outbreak no matter how effective the vaccines themselves are. Honest communication by trusted elected officials is essential, literally, to our survival” (1/28).

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From KFF

KFF Updates Mexico City Policy Explainer

Kaiser Family Foundation: The Mexico City Policy: An Explainer
This updated explainer from the Kaiser Family Foundation includes information on the Trump administration’s application of the Mexico City policy, which has been renamed “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance,” as well as an overview of the policy, its history, and changes over time (1/28).

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KFF Updates Resources On U.S. Global Family Planning, Reproductive Health Efforts

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Government and International Family Planning & Reproductive Health Efforts
This updated fact sheet examines the U.S. government’s role in family planning and reproductive health (FP/RH) worldwide, including key issues and challenges for U.S. efforts and the Trump administration’s recent actions related to FP/RH (1/28).

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Government and International Family Planning & Reproductive Health: Statutory Requirements and Policies
This updated fact sheet summarizes the major statutory requirements and policies pertaining to U.S. global FP/RH efforts over time and identifies those currently in effect. These laws and policies collectively serve to direct how U.S. funds are spent, to where and which organizations funds are provided, and generally shape the implementation and define the scope of U.S. global FP/RH activities (1/28).

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KFF Updates Fact Sheet On Global Polio Efforts, U.S. Government Role

Kaiser Family Foundation: The U.S. Government and Global Polio Efforts
The Kaiser Family Foundation updated this fact sheet, which provides a snapshot of global polio eradication efforts and examines the U.S. government’s role in addressing polio worldwide (1/28).

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